Jane Got A Gun is probably the most high-profile film in recent years to have serious production problems. The original director Lynne Ramsey walked off the film 2 days before production started. Jude Law who was originally casted as the villain John Bishop walked as well as the cinematographer Darius Khondji. Gavin O’Connor took over directing the film after Ramsey’s no-show. Bradley Cooper was going to be Bishop and then had to decline and Ewan McGregor stepped in at the last-minute to replace him.
Natalie Portman plays the Jane of the title whose husband has just came home riddled with bullet holes. The bishop boys gang want him dead and will do anything they can to do so. Jane has to find her former fiancé Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton) and together they have to protect themselves and her husband from the gang.
The film itself is a fairly standard western but as much as some critics love Lynne Ramsey, I find her work to be smacked full of first year film school symbolism. She could’ve in remote way made it a better film but Gavin O’Connor is a perfectly good director and his previous film Warrior is excellent. The script was originally by Brian Duffield but he now shares credit Anthony Tambakis (who wrote Warrior) and Joel Edgerton. This smacks of on-set rewriting so who knows what the original script was like.
Natalie Portman is of course a very fine actress but near the climax of the film she seems to much of a damsel in distress at times and not the strong-willed woman she is for the majority of the film. Joel Edgerton is shaping up to be one of the most interesting actors working today but seems to more interesting in writing and directing. McGregor does his best as the baddie but does do that one American accent he does, it’s just a bit threatening than his accent in Big Fish. Noah Emmerich doesn’t have much to do as Jane’s husband Bill Hammond but is perfectly fine.
Overall Jane Got A Gun is okish western with decent performances. Gavin O’Connor is an excellent director who obviously did this as a favor to his friend Joel Edgerton (who was one of the stars of Warrior) and tried his best with rather flimsy material. In an age of excellent revisionist westerns like Bone Tomahawk, Slow West and Tarantino’s recent output it feels extremely lightweight and old-fashioned.